: views from the Hill

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Google Maps street view

A lot's been said about the "street view" recently made available with Google Maps. Invasion of privacy? How did they get inside the gated community to do their driveby? How can they just take pictures of people and put them up on the Web without asking permission? and yadda and so forth.

What hasn't been talked about (much) are the new uses the street view is being used for.

Example primo: blog post today from SocketSite: San Francisco real estate tips, trends and the local scoop: "Plug In" to SocketSite™

SocketSite covered a "for sale" listing for an unreinforced masonry three bedroom one-and-a-half bath single family home at 645 Hyde listed at $965K.

The comments came thick and furious. (Two of them, in fact, were mine.) Comments about the neighborhood (the Tenderloin) and the local drug wars and other crime. Comments about the noise. Comments about the "courtyard" and why-are-there-no-pictures-of-the-inside? Comments about the cost to reinforce an UMB (and you would want to, wouldn't you, in this bucolic village?)

Someone popped in with a "Google street view also shows a massive smokestack rising from behind the building, it is missing in the MLS pictures." Which it is, not due to eliding the stack from the photos but due to clever photo cropping.

Conversation continued re what the smokestack was ("Station S. Located at 1 Meacham Place. Equipped with three boilers: one in operation producing 65,000 lb/hr of steam and two that are installed and permitted but not currently in use. All boilers are fueled 100 percent by natural gas; No. 2 diesel is available as a backup fuel." ... Meacham Place is the alley immediately to the rear of the building that's for sale)

I wouldn't have thought (although from now on I probably will) to use Google street view to check out the surrounds of any listing I'm halfway curious about.

Any other interesting uses for Google street view? Probably so.

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